If you have not yet found the Tropical Herping web site, I would encourage you to visit it. Alejandro Arteaga and colleagues have done an outstanding job building this elegant and information filled website. What follows is a short article from the site and some photography.
By Alejandro Arteaga, Lucas Bustamante and Juan Guayasamin
After four years of extensive fieldwork, the research team at Tropical Herping unveiled the richest community of amphibians and reptiles in any cloud forest locality above 1000 m. The team found an array of 101 species, and the results were published in the book The Amphibians and Reptiles of Mindo. But more than just the numbers, it is the value of the species what matters. The array includes some of the rarest and most bizarre amphibians and reptiles on earth, along with many that cannot be found outside Ecuador, and many others that are on the brink of extinction.
In the study area, Mindo, there are 10 species of glassfrogs. One of these is new to science and was not included in the book. This makes Mindo the best place in the world to see these marvelous creatures, which are famous for their partial or total ventral transparency. As it turns out, a visitor may spot five species in just one cloud forest stream.
There are five species of vipers and one is probably new. Among the included species, the Osborne’s Lancehead (Bothrops osbornei) and the Spotted Lancehead (Bothrops punctatus) are believed to be Ecuador’s rarest species of vipers and also the most venomous. The Ecuadorian Toadhead (Bothrocophias campbelli) is also extremely difficult to spot, but if you are planning to encounter one, Mindo is the place to go.
The Osborne’s Lancehead (Bothrops osbornei) is one of the
rarest and most enigmatic vipers in the world. Less than 20
individuals have been seen throughout the course of history.
With 27 species of rainfrogs, Mindo is the single most species rich locality in the world when it comes to this notoriously varied group of frogs. Not only is the variety of rainfrogs impressive, but also how little is known about them. In fact, one species, the Mindo Rainfrog (Pristimantis mindo), is described in the book as a species new to science. Besides their enigmatic variety, another amazing feature of rainfrogs is their lack of a tadpole stage. Instead, the adults lay terrestrial eggs that later hatch into miniature versions of the adults. Mindo is home to seven species of arboreal lizards, the anoles. One of these, the famous Pinocchio Anole (Anolis proboscis), was thought to be extinct for nearly fifty years. Now that is has been rediscovered, researchers and tourists around the world are visiting the valley of Mindo to study and admire the lizard.
Finally, from the 101 Mindoan amphibians and reptiles, 31 occur only in Ecuador, 72 are threatened with extinction, and two of them are already extinct.
Ecuador’s most wanted: the Pinocchio Anole (Anolis proboscis).
This lizards was thought to be extinct for nearly fifty years,
and still after its rediscovery in 2005, it remains hard to locate.
The concentration of endangered species is one of the highest in the continent. What is at stake is one of the most fragile, rare and fascinating communities of amphibians and reptiles in the world. However, there is still a lot you can do to help conserve this natural heritage, from supporting local lodges, reserves and research institutions to spreading the word about the marvelous amphibians and reptiles of the cloud forest.
I am a retired science educator and naturalist. My research focuses on reptiles, mostly snakes. Also, I am interested in dogs and their evolution. Protecting the environment should be a high priority for everyone, particularly politicians. They seem to be in denial over the idea that the environment is our life support system - once it's damaged, it may not be fixable.
World Snake Day is July 16. The day is important to the conservation of snakes. Snakes live on every continent except Antarctica and can vary from the longest species, the reticulated python, to the smallest Barbados Threadsnake. Snakes try to avoid human contact. They consider humans predators. Venomous snakes (and many) use their venom to obtain food and only use it for defense when forced to. World Snake Day can help remove people's fears and illusions about snakes, and help them gain recognition as a marvelous adaptable apex species. World Snake Day can be used to educate and inform people about how to deal with snakes. Let's not mis this opportunity.
World Lizard Day
August 14th is World Lizard Day. It's the perfect time to show some love for these remarkable creatures that have been sharing our planet since the time of the dinosaurs. With over 6,000 known species, lizards come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns, and you can find them on every continent except Antarctica. But why should we celebrate lizards, you ask? Well, they're not just cool to observe in their natural habitats but also essential players in many ecosystems. Lizards help keep insect populations in check, which is vital to our ecosystems. So, let's give these amazing creatures the recognition they deserve on this special day! tems worldwide.
World Turtle Day
Turtles and tortoises have secured their enduring places as enduring symbols in folklore, fables, and popular culture, enchanting our imaginations with their representations of wisdom and resilience. Annually, on May 23, we gather with delight to observe World Turtle Day, a dedicated day that pays homage to these unwavering creatures. Turtles and tortoises, both esteemed members of the reptile family, inhabit an array of diverse environments worldwide, where they play pivotal roles within their ecosystems.
These extraordinary beings don’t merely excavate burrows that become abodes for various other species; they also provide a valuable service by assisting in maintaining the cleanliness of our beaches. Their diet includes the remains of deceased fish that wash ashore, making a substantial contribution to ecological equilibrium. This underscores the profound significance of safeguarding these gentle creatures.
World Turtle Day stands as an occasion specially designated to celebrate and protect both of these remarkable creatures. Its origins can be traced back to 2002 when American Tortoise Rescue introduced this meaningful event. It casts a spotlight on the myriad challenges that turtles and tortoises confront due to human intervention and environmental hazards. On this special day, educational institutions, rescue centers, and nature enthusiasts unite to deepen their understanding of these creatures and pledge unwavering commitments to their preservation.
Here are some impactful ways in which you can actively participate in the endeavor to safeguard these exceptional animals: Adopt a Turtle or Tortoise: Contemplate adopting a turtle or tortoise from a rescue shelter. These low-maintenance creatures make ideal companions, especially for families with young children.
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